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Nyong’o calls for absolute ban of plastic to safeguard ocean resources

Nyong’o said banning the use of plastic in totality will ensure the environment is protected from the harmful effects of the non-degradable pollutants/COURTESY

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 27 – Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o has proposed the extension of the ban on single-use plastic to plastic bottles to mitigate the influx of plastic waste in water bodies.

While making his contribution at a climate change event on the margins of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference on Tuesday, Nyong’o said banning the use of plastic in totality will ensure the environment is protected from the harmful effects of the non-degradable pollutants.

He noted that the ban will also create an opportunity for industries producing degradable carries bags and containers to flourish.

“We can ban the use of plastic bags and bottles and give another industry an opportunity to fill the gap created,” Nyong’o pointed out.

He identified the manufacturing of biodegradable bags as a viable alternative whose adoption will not only make world cities cleaner but also create job opportunities and expand economies.

“There’s a technology from India that allows you to use vegetable waste to make biodegradable bags. This will not only create jobs but also promote the recycling of vegetable waste,” the Kisumu county chief told the session on climate change also attended by World Wide Fund President, Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations Ocean Conference President Vorege Bainimaram, and Blue Innovation Institute co-chairperson Angus Friday.

Kenya banned the use of disposable plastic in August last year after a six-month notice gazzeted in February 2017 lapsed.

The use of plastic bags and containers has emerged in the recent days as a huge existential threat to the fishing industry with latest estimates by United Nations Environment Programme showing in excess eight million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean each year.

The projections also put the amount of micro-plastics – nylon, polystyrene, and polyethylene – being dumped into the ocean annually at 230,000 metric tons annually, an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer of ocean,  further endangering fish.

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The amount of plastic waste in the ocean in projected to increase tenfold by 2020 superseding outnumbering fish by 2050.

Plastic microparticles have the ability of being absorbed into the flesh of fish making seafood unsafe for human consumption.

The plastic microparticles are particularly harmful as some of them may have heavy metals embedded.

In July 2017, leading scientists in France and Malaysia projected the annual consumption of microplatics through seafood in Europe at 11,000.

In the report published in Scientific Reports, a scientific journal by an international scientific publisher Nature Research, the scientists reported thirty-six microplastics in 120 assorted fish samples.

Although Kenya has joined other countries in sea-cleaning campaign in previous years, the country is yet to set a target for the realization of a pollution free seacoast.

Leading the global efforts towards actualization of Sustainable Development Goal 14 on sustainable management and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, Sri Lanka in January declared an ambitious goal to attain a pollution-free seacoast by 2030.

The Asian country has stepped up waste recycling in part of a bold action plan to turn the tide on plastics.

According to the United Nations, over three billion people depend on marine and coastal resources for their livelihoods.

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Other than plastic pollution, this vital resource faces other dangers including over-exploitation of at least 30 per cent of world’s fish stock.

The global agency has also reported a 26 per cent rise in ocean acidification since the industrial revolution.

The ocean also absorbs about thirty percent of carbon dioxide produced by human beings, according to the United Nations.

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